Well Known Repertoires

Time to go home (1939) *

Young general Wen Pingsheng and his wife, Pinniang, are deeply in love with each other. Jealous of the couple’s love, Wen’s cousins conspire with a doctor and claim that the wife has caught an incurable disease. Pingsheng is the only son in the family, sohis mother dislikes Pinniang for being barren and is also afraid that her son might contract the disease.

Pingsheng’s mother forces her daughter-in-law to live alone on the premise of letting her recover from her disease, and forbids her son to visit. As he is about to go to battle, Wen visits his wife at night but is caught and scolded by his mother.

After he leaves home, the mother gives Pinniang a maid and some gold to keep her from ever returning, and then tells her son that his wife has died. Aghast at the news, Pingsheng wants to die on the battlefield but survives numerous combats and goes home. As he weeps at Pinniang’s tomb, his touched wife comes out to meet him. Moved by their undying love and ashamed of their misdeeds, the cousins admit to their wrongdoing. In the end, the mother agrees to the reunion of the couple.

Butterfly lovers (1955) *

Zhu Yingtai aspires to study under a famous master of Hangzhou. With her father’s consent, she leaves home disguised herself as a man. On their way, she and her maid encounter Shanbo and his loyal squire. They become the best of friends during their three years of study. Long suspicious of her gender, the squire wonders about Yingtai’s true feelings toward Shanbo. Yingtai has indeed fallen in love with his master, but is too shy to reveal herself.

A letter from home urges Yingtai’s return, and Shanbo comes to see her off. Along the way, Yingtairepeatedly hints at her true gender, but Shanbo is not aware of her attempts. Finally, instead of telling the truth, Yingtai fabricates a lie about a younger sister whom Shanbo should come to see. Unfortunately, back at home, Yingtai’s father has accepted an offer from a favorable suitor for her, and Shanbo arrives too late to stop the marriage. He falls ill from sorrow and dies.

When her wedding procession passes his tomb, Yingtai gets off the sedan chair and offers sacrifices to him, expressing her wish to turn into a butterfly and stay with her lover. A sudden bolt of lightning opens the tomb into which Yingtai dives. People there witness a pair of butterflies fluttering happily away.

The purple hairpin (1957) *

On the night of Lantern Festival, a talented young man from Chang'an, Li Yi, recovers a purple hairpin that has been dropped by Huo, the woman of his dreams. Moved by his sincerity, Huo's mother agrees for the two to get married on that very night. Li then seals the vow of eternal love to her in blood letters.

Although he has passed the imperial examination, Li is appointed to a position beyond the Great Walls after failing to pay homage to Lu, a senior official in charge of military affairs. Lu sees to it that nothing should beheard from Li for three years, during which Huo falls gravely ill and lives by pawning her jewelry.

Lu summons Li back to Chang'an with the intention of forcing the young man to marry his daughter. Lufurther procures the purple hairpin pawned by Xiaoyu and shows it to Li as proof that his fiancée has remarried. Li is convinced, but swallows the hairpin to show his determination not to marry Lu's daughter. Infuriated, Lu threatens to accuse Li of expressing treacherous ideas in his poems, leaving him no choice but to comply. Upon hearing her husband has betrayed her, Huo vomits blood.

With the help of “Yellow Gown”, a chevalier in charge of military affairs, Huo reunites with Li, clearing up all misunderstandings. When Lu has his men take Li to his house by force, “Yellow Gown” orders Huo to break into the house to claim her husband. It turns out that the yellow–gowned chevalier is the emperor's brother. The chevalier deposes Lu in the name of justice. Huo and Li Yi are finally reunited.

The princess in depress (1962) *

Having lived as a hostage in Jin for years, Hongluan, sister of Prince Di, returns to Song. She is escorted by her lover, General Yelü from Jin. As they part with each other, they sing “The Barbarian’s Song.” On the way home, Hongluan’s men rescue a woman from the sea. Soon bandits come to plunder the ship, and the people aboard scatter. Prince Di’s men, while failing to find Hongluan, see a woman floating on the sea inHongluan’s cape. They assume her to be the princess, and take her to the prince's house.

General Yelü, using the alias Lu Junxiong, comes to the Central Plains in search of Hongluan. On the other shore, Ni Si'an mourns his lovesick daughter, Ni Xiudian, who has jumped into the sea because of a broken heart. He happens to rescue Hongluan, who now has lost her memory. Shang Quanxiao, son of a minister, returns after coming out first in the highest imperial examination. Since Shang’s mother has promised to marry him to Ni Si'an’s daughter, Si'an takes Hongluan to Shang's home in his daughter’s place.

Junxiong, also taking the imperial examination, manages to come out first in the examination for military officers. The minister takes a liking to him and invites him to stay in his house. Learning that Prince Di is looking for someone to translate the letter in a foreign language brought back by his “sister,” Si'an hasHongluan disguise herself as a man and offer her services. Impressed by her ability to read the letter, the prince decides to marry Hongluan to his “sister.”

The woman who has been mistaken for the prince’s sister is none other than Ni Xiudian. On the wedding night, she meets her lover Quanxiao. In time she gives birth to a baby and so does Hongluan. Fearing the prince's punishment, Ni Si'an advises Quanxiao’s mother to pretend that both babies are her own children. The prince orders the strange case be tried by Junxiong before daybreak. All believe that Si'an andQuanxiao’s mother are guilty of adultery. Xiudian and Hongluan come to the court to claim their babies, andJunxiong’s identity is revealed. As the prince decides to execute punishment on him, he sings “The Barbarian's Song”in desperation, reviving Hongluan's memory.

* Source from: Cantonese Opera Research Programme , The Chinese University of Hong Kong